For this prompt:

She learned to ignore them at an early age. Disregarded them when they flitted in at the corner of her eye, ignored the whispers at her ear, learned not to stiffen when the cool air hit the back of her neck. It was all training exercises, really. Filter out all of the things which made her hair stand on end, nervous electricity prickling on her soles, readying her to take off like a deer after hearing that faraway gunshot.

Self-medicating happened from ages fourteen through twenty. Alcohol, pot, coke, pills, sex. It took an embarrassingly long time to realize the drugs just made them appear more frequently and sometimes worse than when she was sober. Sex helped until she opened her eyes. There was no rehab, no hospital, she just stopped all of the above. The last thing she needed was to be locked away, any sort of constriction would be open season for them.

And so she took up running with headphones on, music blasting to stop the hissing. When she ran fast enough, she could disregard the dark blurs as she dashed past. Eventually, they learned how to force static in. They didn’t like being ignored.

Sometimes they leave scratches on her doors

She got a boyfriend, an understanding guy, who didn’t push her when she flinched under his hand and learned to not whisper around her. He suggested a therapist and when she refused, didn’t push. When she turned on all the lights in the apartment and watched the windows, he never called her crazy, just quietly suggested they go to bed or eat dinner and maybe in the morning, they could go see Doctor Morris. It was different, having someone who didn’t understand but was willing to try. When it was time, she found him hanging and of course the police would say suicide but it’s impossible to hang yourself with your arms broken, wasn’t it?

She ran from the apartment without calling 911, she was sure her wailing alerted their neighbors anyway. The streets were glistening from the rain, the water blurring her vision and making the traffic and car and street lights bounce and whirl and dance in her speeding vision. When she turned around the corner to toward the park, she stumbled as she stopped in her tracks, seeing them standing there, waiting, because it was her time.

They stood there, black shadows, their eyes, where their eyes would be, glowing, glowing, glowing red.

She didn’t feel terror, just dread, because this wasn’t going to be quick and when the shuddering gasp escaped her, they smiled, glowing…glowing…glowing…red.


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